Apple Disables Maps Features in Israel and Gaza

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Apple Maps has flipped the switch on live traffic data in Israel and Gaza at the request of the Israeli Defense Forces, according to The Hill. The move follows Google and Waze who did the same yesterday, eliminating any options in the region to track traffic jams or source crowding information.

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Live traffic information has been used by grassroots movements in other conflicts to reveal details about troop movements or where crowds are gathered. The technology uses anonymous user location data for the purpose of detecting traffic delays and estimating travel times. In 2022, civilians watched on Google Maps as Russian troops invaded Ukraine’s Eastern border, showing up as a “traffic jam,” according to the Motherboard.

Apple did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

A Google Maps spokesperson told Gizmodo yesterday that the company “temporarily disabled the ability to see live traffic conditions and busyness information out of consideration for the safety of local communities.”

Google and Apple turned off live traffic data during the invasion of Ukraine. Google Maps say it still offers routes and ETAs that take current traffic conditions into account for the affected region, and it seems Apple does as well.

GeekTime, an Israeli tech publication, said the map of Israel appears almost completely empty on these apps, with the exception of reports about stuck vehicles, dangers and road work. GPS-based applications that transmit user data have been defined as a potential danger to the IDF’s activities for years, according to GeekTime.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has yet to comment on the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel or the conflict that has followed, according to the New York Post. Other tech CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Satya Nadella have all spoken out on the issue. Last year, Apple celebrated a decade of activity in Israel and currently employs around 2,000 workers in the region.